Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer Reflections pt 2- Results and philosophy

While I'm not personally ashamed (maybe a little) of this years scores, I don't want to post my overall results for fear that students will figure out what their peers made who might not want to share them.

I'll say this though...they were disappointing in many ways.  While I had the exact same percentage of students "pass" as I did last year, the numbers of 4s and 5s were almost non-existent.  To be clear, I teach at a STEM school, one might think that these were students really into AP Chemistry (another discussion!), and my expectation going forth is that every student should get a 3 or above as a minimum, and I'd like to shoot for at least 50% of them getting 4s and 5s.

Before the rockstars of AP chemistry teaching jump in and say how low these expectations are, let's stipulate that I probably don't approach the class philosophically the same way you do, nor am I looking for the same outcomes you are.  I don't tell students they can't take my class and I don't hard recruit any either.  I'd say out of this years graduating class of around 120 or so (I don't have the actual numbers), that only 6 or so took AP Chemistry, Out of the top 12 students, only 2 took AP Chemistry, even though many are going into science related fields.

There could be many reasons for this, first and foremost might be that I'm a little abrasive and sarcastic.  I don't really think that is it as I connect with most students really well despite (or because of) this, but I recognize that I might be part of that.

The biggest thing in my mind is that students hear their peers say how hard it is and how bad their test scores are on exams and those students who have been raised (and are still hearing everyday) that GPA matters more than anything avoid the class.  The irony is that most of my students make As and Bs despite the crazy rep, but there are always students that are going to major in Chemical Engineering or Biosystems or something that don't take AP Chemistry because it might hurt their GPA.

So be it, I never try to talk a kid into taking it, because it is hard, stressful, a lot of work,etc. and I want them to make that decision on their own (or well, with their parents).  In fact, I anti-recruit every year, just to make sure that students take it because they need it or really want it, not because they'd like to take a class with me or because a friend is taking it, it won't be worth it then, I'm not that amusing...

Back to my evolving philosophy, I've always held that I wasn't going to worry much about the exam results.  I've always considered my job teaching AP Chemistry not to replace their college class, though I try to teach it at that level, but rather to make sure that when they get to college, they rock out that A and don't get weeded out by college Chemistry I and II, which plenty of students do.  The scores were always sort of incidental to me.

But here's the thing that hit me hard this year...just because that is my philosophy doesn't mean that is what all of my students expect.  Many of them want to opt out of college chem, they are taking AP classes for three reasons- it looks good on transcript, can boost GPA, and it might save them money in college.

And I'm letting those kids down, with my philosophy and style of teaching...

No comments:

Post a Comment